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Oklahoma House Passes Tweak to Lottery Education Funding Formula

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Oklahoma Lottery
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The Oklahoma House approved a bill Tuesday supporters say will mean $110 million more dollars over five years for common education.

House Bill 1837 changes the lottery’s minimum funding requirement from 35 percent of net proceeds to the first $50 million. Rep. Leslie Osborn said the state budget crunch makes that tweak a good idea.

"It's going to be a little difficult to get more dollars to education," Osborn said. "And even though we've kept the dollars pretty stable for common education, there's always an increase in population, so that diminshes the numbers of what's actually going."

Any funding past the first $50 million of net proceeds will be spent on programs in only two categories: STEM initiatives or reading initiatives.

"How often do we get to say that we put dollars into something that actually goes to creative learning in the classroom?" Osborn said. "How often do we just have to add into the formula that just pays for the bills?"

The bill also fixes lottery administrative costs at 3 percent of sales, though that doesn’t include prizes, advertising or commissions.

Rep. Todd Russ opposed the measure.

"Lower-income, more impoverished people are generally the ones that are more likely to [play], and it drags more money out of them to put into this industry," Russ said.

HB1837 passed 70–25 and now goes to the Senate.